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Kim Jong Un snubs Russia to avoid 'freak show'

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks in an undated photo released April 26, 2015, by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency.
KCNA | Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has snubbed his first overseas visit to Russia, fearing that it would turn him into a "freak show," according to a South Korean newspaper.

The Russian Kremlin announced Thursday that Kim Jong Un, the controversial leader of the secretive North Korean state, had decided not to visit Moscow for celebrations to mark the Soviet Union's victory in World War II on May 9.

"He has decided to stay in Pyongyang," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call, according to various media reports."This decision is related to (North) Korea's internal affairs."

Not so, according to the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, which reported Friday that Kim Jong Un's decision was due to his keeness to avoid becoming a "freak show" for the international media.

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"There is speculation that Kim decided to stay home because Pyongyang and Moscow failed to reach agreement on security protocol for him," Chosun Ilbo's online edition reported Friday.

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It said that Russia "reportedly refused to comply" with requests for special treatment because there will be several other foreign dignitaries at the event.

"Without top-grade security, Kim would inevitably have become a freak show for the global press," the report added.

The global media certainly hold a fascination for the Communist leader. North Korea is a very closed state and Kim Jong Un - who has the title "supreme leader" which he inherited from his father, Kim Jong-il – has something of a cult-like following around the world

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- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt. Follow us on Twitter: @CNBCWorld